An Interpol notice is an international alert circulated by Interpol to communicate information about crimes, criminals, and threats from police in a member state (or an authorized international entity) to their counterparts around the world. The information disseminated via notices concerns individuals wanted for serious crimes, missing persons, unidentified bodies, possible threats, prison escapes, and criminals' modus operandi.
There are eight types of notices, seven of which are color-coded by their function: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black, Orange, and Purple.
The most well-known notice is the Red Notice which is the "closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today. "An eighth Special Notice is issued at the request of the United Nations Security Council.Notices published by Interpol are made either on the organisation's own initiative or are based on requests from its member states".
National Central Bureaus (NCBs) or authorized international entities such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. All notices are published on Interpol's secure website. Extracts of notices may also be published on Interpol's public website if the requesting entity agrees. Interpol can only publish a notice that adheres to all the proper legal conditions.
Notices can be issued in any of the four official languages of Interpol: English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.
In addition, Notices are used by the United Nations, International Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court to seek persons wanted for committing crimes within their jurisdiction, notably genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Similar to the Notice is another request for cooperation or alert mechanism known as a 'Diffusion'. This is less formal than a notice but is also used to request the arrest or location of an individual or additional information in relation to a police investigation. A Diffusion is circulated directly by a member states or international entity to the countries of their choice, or to the entire Interpol membership and is simultaneously recorded in Interpol’s databases.
A Notice is published only if it fulfills all conditions for processing the information. For example, a Notice will not be published if it violates Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution, which forbids the Organization from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.
Notices are processed in line with INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data, which ensure the legality and quality of information, and the protection of personal data.
The legal basis for a Red Notice is an arrest warrant or court order issued by the judicial authorities in the country concerned. Many of INTERPOL’s member countries consider a Red Notice to be a valid request for provisional arrest.
Furthermore, INTERPOL is recognized as an official channel for transmitting requests for provisional arrest in a number of bilateral and multilateral extradition treaties, including the European Convention on Extradition, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Extradition, and the United Nations Model Treaty on Extradition.
Types of INTERPOL Notices
Blue Notice: To locate, identify or obtain information on a person of interest in a criminal investigation.
Green Notice: To warn about a person’s criminal activities if that person is considered to be a possible threat to public safety.
Yellow Notice: To locate a missing person or to identify a person unable to identify himself/ herself.
Black Notice: To seek information on unidentified bodies.
Orange Notice: To warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing an imminent threat and danger to persons or property.
Purple Notice: To provide information on modi operandi, procedures, objects, devices or hiding places used by criminals.
Interpol-United Nations Security Council Special Notice:To inform Interpol’s members that an individual or an entity is subject to UN sanctions.
INTERPOL - red notices can linger, even when deleted - the need for caution before travelling
We were recently instructed by a client in respect of an INTERPOL Red Notice that had been issued against them by an African state in respect of an allegation of fraud. As a result of this Red Notice they were detained for several months in a country in the Middle East.
There were several legal issues with the Red Notice in question and we were able to make strong representations to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files to delete the Red Notice. The Commission acted quickly to block the Red Notice and subsequently permanently deleted the information concerning our client from their systems.
Naturally our client was thrilled to be able to leave the country they had been trapped in for several months and continue his business. However, on attempting to board a flight to a third country a few weeks later our client was informed that his visa for that country had been cancelled – no explanation was given at the time.
Our client contacted us and we discovered that the reason for the cancellation was the supposed continued existence of the Red Notice. We were able to contact INTERPOL immediately to request that they clarify the position and also to work with our client to resolve his visa situation.
The problem our client faced stems from the structure and makeup of the INTERPOL system. Whilst often wrongly characterised as an international police force, INTERPOL is instead an organisation that simply enables cooperation between the police forces of its 190 member states. INTERPOL manages various databases and facilitates the rapid sharing of information between the police forces of its member states. Unfortunately this means that, on occasion, mistakes can occur. We have seen a number of instances where Red Notices have been ‘deleted’ by INTERPOL but still appear on out-dated copies of an INTERPOL database that is maintained by a member state.
Anyone who has been subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice or extradition request in the past should take advice before travelling regardless of what they believe the position to be. As an internationally focussed firm, dealing with INTERPOL, extradition, immigration and international protection, we have extensive experience in handling these specific issues and can offer practical advice as to how best to proceed including making applications for ‘safe passage’.